Guest Commentary: A Deeper Look into the Tragedy in Charlotte, North Carolina

Four law enforcement officers were killed Monday in Charlotte. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Officer Joshua Eyer, North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections Officer Samuel Poloche, North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections Officer William Elliott, and Deputy U.S. Marshal Thomas Weeks. Photo credit: Charlotte-Mecklenburg PD/Facebook

By: Malik & Gale Washington

It has been just over one week since a man with a gun in a house in Charlotte, North Carolina, took the lives of four members of law enforcement.  First and foremost, we want extend our sincere and heartfelt condolences and prayers to the families of Officers Joshua Eyer, Samuel Poloche, William Elliott, and Deputy U.S. Marshal Thomas Weeks who were killed in Charlotte.

Destination Freedom Media Group pays close attention to the patterns and trends in policing as well as gun violence in America.  It pains us to witness the ongoing saga of death and violence unfolding regularly in our neighborhoods and communities.

This specific incident in Charlotte, like many in the past, has garnered the attention of the nation and presents a compelling question:

Will this be the incident that convinces Democrats and Republicans to cooperate in order to craft common-sense gun reform legislation?

Regardless of Congress’ indecisions and their incessant in-fighting, there are other serious issues here that command our attention:

Who will take care of the children and help the wives of these fallen officers?

Joshua Eyer worked with CMPD’s North Tryon Division for six years. He graduated from CMPD’s 178th Recruit Class in April 2018.

Officer Joshua Eyer had a 3-year-old little boy.  How does his mother explain that Daddy isn’t coming home?

Deputy U.S. Marshal Thomas Weeks was assigned to the Western District of North Carolina as part of the Carolinas Regional Fugitive Task Force. Weeks, 48, lived in Mooresville, a northern suburb of Charlotte.

U.S. Marshal Weeks’ has four children.  How do they cope with the loss of their father?

Sam Poloche was a 14-year veteran with the NCDAC.

William “Alden” Elliott was a member of the U.S. Marshals Carolinas Regional Fugitive Task Force.  He was a 14-year veteran of the North Carolina Department of Adult Correction. He leaves behind a wife and a child, officials said.

There is nothing that can fix the trauma of the loss of a husband and father.

The officers that where shot but are recovering “…identified as Chris Tolley, Mike Giglio and Jack Blowers — suffered gunshot wounds but are now in stable condition. Another officer, Justin Campbell, was treated for a broken foot.”

What to know about the Charlotte law enforcement shooting victims

This was the same type of question that I thought about when Niani Finlayson was killed by a Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputy in front of her daughter.  Also, when Ajike Owens was murdered by her neighbor in Ocala, Florida. Some may say these situations are starkly different, and I say, “How so?”


This leads me to my next question:

How can we as a nation heal the rifts and address the culture of mistrust between police in America and the communities they patrol?

“The role of the Black prophetic tradition has always been to shatter the narrow and deodorized discourse in the name of the funky humanity and precious individuality of poor people.”

~Black Prophetic Fire, page 163, Cornell West in dialogue with and edited by Christa Buschendorf (Beacon Press)

The idea of mistrust of the police is not something that I’ve conjured up in my imagination.

Malachi Williams was suffering from mental illness and homelessness when he was killed by police in San Marcos, Texas.

What was reported by Fox 7 Austin was this:

On the night of April 11, police said Williams first threatened two people with two 8-inch kitchen knives, then ran away when they tried to arrest him. Officials said they tried to use two tasers, but they didn’t work. Police said when Williams started running with a knife towards people at an H-E-B, an officer shot him.

When asked by the family to release the bodycam video, Police Chief Standridge said the information won’t be released until after the case is essentially closed – until the officer has been cleared.  Until this bodycam video has been released (hopefully not altered), the family or anyone else will not know whether the statements of the officers are true; it appears that none of the alleged witnesses in the area have come forward to state whether or not Malachi had a knife or knives in his hand.

Frank Tyson was another Black man in crisis in Canton, Ohio.  He was handcuffed and subdued by the police before he died.  He cried out several times, “I can’t breathe!”

Saying, “Shut the f**k up!” by one of the police officers when Frank was saying he cannot breathe IS NOT a solution to this problem.

Two weeks prior to this incident, Frank Tyson was released from prison after spending 24 years wrongfully incarcerated.

By no means am I implying that these tragic incidents justify or warrant violence against the police. NO!  That’s not what I’m saying.  But I do state firmly that incidents such as these stoke the flames of mistrust of the police in our communities.  The corporate-owned media never asked nor answered this question:

Why was a Black man in Charlotte so angry and so filled with hate that he found it necessary to kill four White law enforcement officers?

We must look deeper and take a more comprehensive stance in finding solutions to these problems.

In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams says the solution for pro-Palestinian protests at Columbia University is a more robust police presence.  In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott says, “Bring in the National Guard!”

Are we about to see a repeat of the Kent State massacre?  The above happened on May 4, 1970.  Will National Guard troops or police in New York or at the University of Texas at Austin execute protesting students and civilians?  We hope not.  If we do not learn from the mistakes in our past, we are most certainly doomed to repeat them.

As the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois, gets closer and closer, one wonders what President Joe Biden’s response will be to pro-Palestinian protestors. Will there be free expression, or will there be Orwellian suppression, hyper-surveillance, and a para-military presence?

It appears that we have become grossly desensitized to gun violence in America.  The loss of innocent life is an all-to-regular occurrence.

Willie Ratchford, the Director of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Department made this relevant comment after the tragedy in Charlotte:

“We’ve become literally numb to it, and we make it part of our norm. When hope is crushed, our hearts are crushed. Let’s keep hope alive. Let’s restore our hope.”

Malik Washington is a free-lance journalist and staff writer for Destination Freedom and Destination Freedom Media Group.  He is a co-founder of the SRJ Freedom Collective.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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